Gimme That Old-Time Religion: a Sermon for the First First Day of Seventh Month

July 6, 2019 by

It’s now well into summer, and getting that Master’s of Divinity degree this spring feels well behind me now. When we graduating seniors sat up on the dais and got to give brief speeches to the audience, mine was the briefest: “He must increase; I must decrease.” I felt sure that those were the words the Lord had given me to say, John the Baptist’s words from John 3:30. I was grateful for them. What’s the point of divinity school if we don’t leave it desiring Christ’s increase? And what did we learn there if we don’t realize that we can only make room for His increase by shrinking self, subduing self-will, and hushing every flicker of the heart that’s at odds with being servants of the One who came “not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me?” (John 6:36 AV.) For, once we lambs have had the first glimmers of experience that our Shepherd dwells in us (2 Cor 3:5) and we in Him (1 Cor 12:27), which I’d hope every seminarian might get along the way, then what more natural response can we make than to make room for Him in us? This means to cultivate, and dwell in, what the old Quietist Quakers called “nothingness of self.” [1]

This nothingness, as I understand it, is compatible with Buddhist, Advaitin and modern philosophers’ ideas of the illusoriness of selfhood, but does not require them, because it is not itself a philosophical idea but a discipline of the heart, a habitual “casting down of imaginations” in the poetic words of the King James Bible. [2] Are we attached to dreams of winning in competition or combat? Take your time if you must, but out they must go, along with fantasies of anything illicit. Nothingness of self in this sense does not mean neglect of self-care, refusal of pleasure, or erasure of any harmless personal quirks that your loved ones love in you, for, if you think about it, you’re commanded to love yourself as you love your neighbor (Lev 19:18; Mark 12:31, etc.), and it’s not loving, to starve your neighbor away in a dungeon. But it does mean listening for the Shepherd’s voice and obeying His always wise and loving directions. Christ’s yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matt 11:30), but it is a yoke. I find it sweeter to wear my yoke not out of duty or fear, but out of the love for Him that He plants in my heart.

One of my seminary professors, who called my scriptural references “proof-texting,” commented that I’d shown that I could write like a seventeenth-century Quaker, but not yet like a twenty-first century religious thinker. What a high compliment, to be likened to those early Quakers! But this sets me on a quest for the twenty-first century religious thinkers who, enriched by the cultural advances of these past few centuries, are also exploring nothingness of self.

Footnotes:
[1] A search in Earlham School of Religion’s Digital Quaker Collection (esr.earlham.edu/dqc/) yields ten citations for the phrase “nothingness of self.” The earliest attestation is dated “27th of Fifth Month, 1754,” in Memoirs of Catherine Phillips (Philadelphia, 1798), 381.
[2] 2 Cor 10:5 AV=λογισμοὺς καθαιροῦντες in Paul’s original Greek. I find “casting down imaginations” close in spirit to Patanjali’s pratipakṣa-bhāvanam, a corrective “encouragement of the opposite [sentiment],” in Yoga Sūtras 2:33, 34.

George Fox’s Doctrinals: A Table of Contents and an Alphabetical Index

December 4, 2020 by

Part 1: Introduction

The collection of 142 “doctrinal writings” that makes up volumes 4-6 of George Fox’s 8-volume Works has never, to my knowledge, had a published table of contents or alphabetical index of titles in its 314 years in print. Feeling the need for it, I took it on myself to make up one of each and offer them to the world, hoping thereby to encourage more people to read the Doctrinals and take their message to heart.

If I were asked to summarize their message in a 200-word “elevator speech,” I might say this:

Jesus Christ, the only Savior of souls and Revealer of God’s truth, indwells everyone of every faith tradition, reproving our evil thoughts and deeds and encouraging the good in us, asking each of us to accept Him as our rightful Ruler, Teacher, Shepherd, and Reconciler with God, the one almighty, supremely good, unchanging Creator. Only in such acceptance do we find eternal life, victory over sin and death, empowerment to do all that He asks of us, true spiritual understanding of things, and ordering into a covenanted people of God who love and are loved by God and one another. All this is given to us in spite of the scorn and rejection we may receive from the fallen world, which lies in bondage to “the god of this world,” as the Apostle Paul called him (2 Cor 4:4), Satan the deceiver. Christ teaches us to love and forgive all our abusers and persecutors in spite of whatever ill treatment they may give us, and never to take up carnal weapons against anyone, but always to trust in the guidance and protection of Christ Jesus, in whom we abide, and He in us, so long as we persevere in obedience.

But I can no more say it as Fox said it than I can preach the everlasting gospel as Jesus preached it. Read the words of Jesus Himself; and read the words of Fox himself. And may the Mind of Christ “open” them for you!

This table of contents and alphabetical title index were compiled in loving memory of my friend and mentor Arthur Berk (1927-2020), who edited the Doctrinal Writings (comprising volumes 4, 5, and 6) for the 1990 New Foundation reprint of the 1831 American edition of George Fox’s eight-volume Works (currently out of print, but identical in pagination to the searchable electronic edition, made from the 1831 American edition under the supervision of Earlham School of Religion, maintained online in the Digital Quaker Collection at esr.earlham.edu/dqc). Too few Friends are aware of the availability of this priceless public resource! As an appendix to this document, following the Alphabetical Index of Titles, I offer a short tutorial on using the Digital Quaker Collection to select and read individual Doctrinal Writings.

The compiler, who takes sole responsibility for any errors, thanks Rosemary Moore for her helpful bibliography, which gives Wing Catalogue numbers and Thomaston Catalogue dates for many of Fox’s tracts, and Larry and Licia Kuenning of Quaker Heritage Press for posting her bibliography online, where it is to be found at http://www.qhpress.org/rmoore/index.html.

John Jeremiah Edminster
Richmond, Indiana
12th Month 4, 2020

Part 2: Table of Contents

VOLUME 4:

Page / Title

15 To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom
Wing Catalogue No. F 1942; Thomaston date 3/25/1654

27 The Vials of Wrath of God Poured Forth upon the Man of Sin
Wing Catalogue No. F 1975; 1654

32 A Word from the Lord, to All the World
Wing Catalogue No. F 1992; 1654 [James Nayler et al., co-Authors]

40 To All Who Love the Lord Jesus Christ
“Published in 1654” – Colophon in Works

48 To the High and Lofty Ones
Wing Catalogue No. F 1956A; 1655

51 To All the Rulers of the Earth

53 A Visitation to the Jews
Wing Catalogue No. F 1978; Thomaston date 7/15/1656

76 A Visitation to All You Who Have Long Had the Scriptures

90 A Declaration of the Difference of the Ministers of the Word, and the Ministers of the World
Wing Catalogue No. F 1790; Thomaston date 2/21/1656

99 A Cry for Repentance
Wing Catalogue No. F 1779; Thomaston date 12/1/1656

104 The Woman Learning in Silence
Wing Catalogue No. F 1991; Thomaston date 3/21/1656

111 A Declaration Concerning Fasting, and the Prayer that God Accepts
Wing Catalogue No. F 1785; 1656

115 The Promise of God Proclaimed

119 An Epistle to All People on the Earth
Wing Catalogue No. F 1805; Thomaston date 5/10/1657

134 Something Farther Concerning Silent Meetings

135 To All the Magistrates in London, &c.
Wing Catalogue No. F 1949A; 1657

138 Concerning the World’s Hypocritical Salutations, Being Out of the Truth

139 The Fashions of the World Made Manifest; Also, A Few Words to the City of London

144 The Second Covenant
Wing Catalogue No. F 1898; 1657

156 Christ’s Way and Judas’s Way

160 A Warning to All the Merchants in London, And Such As Buy and Sell
Wing Catalogue No. F 1985; 1658

164 The Pearl Found in England
Wing Catalogue No. F 1858; 1658

177 The Wrath of the Lamb

178 The Lamb’s Officer is Gone Forth with the Lamb’s Message
Wing Catalogue No. F 1855; 1659

194 The Serious People’s Reasoning and Speech, with the World’s Teachers and Professors
Wing Catalogue No. F 1900; 1659

202 The Difference between the World’s Relation… and the Saints’ Relation

205 To the People of Uxbridge
Wing Catalogue No. F 1959; 1659

208 A Word in the Behalf of the King
Wing Catalogue No. F 1993; 1660

216 To the Turk (Turcae et omnibus sub ejus…)
Wing Catalogue No. F 1972; 1660, in Latin and English

222 Some Papers Given Forth to the Magistrates of the Isle of Milita

226 To the Emperor of the House of Austria

234 To the King of France

239 To the King of Spain
The previous four letters published in Latin and English as Scriptunculae, 1660

246 To the Pope

252 For the Emperor of China (Pro Imperatore Chinensi)
Wing Catalogue No. F 1888; 1660, in Latin and English

255 To All the Nations under the Whole Heavens
Not found in Wing; 1660

259 A Few Plain Words… to the Teachers and People of the Nation

264 To Both Houses of Parliament
Wing Catalogue No. F 1952; 1660

267 Concerning Christ Jesus the Covenant of God

270 Truth’s Triumph in the Eternal Power
Wing Catalogue No. F 1971; 1661

282 Concerning the Spirit

286 Concerning Faith

290 A Declaration to the Jews [John White, co-author]
Wing Catalogue No. F 1792; 1661

298 To All that Profess Christianity

303 Christ’s Light, the Only Antidote to Overcome and Expel the Poison…
Wing Catalogue No. F 1761; 1662

305 A Measuring Rule Concerning Liberty and Persecution
Wing Catalogue No. F 1862; 1661

312 To All Rulers of Families
Not found in Wing Catalogue

316 Some Queries to All Teachers and Professors of Christianity
Wing Catalogue No. F 1908A; 1666; a broadside

317 To All Sorts of People in Christendom

329 Gospel Liberty, and the Royal Law of Love

346 Concerning the Act that Prohibits, that Not above Four or Five May Meet

366 A Hammer, to Break Down All Invented Images

387 The Heathen’s Divinity

407 To All Professors in the Christian World

VOLUME 5:

3 A Warning to England
Worcester Prison, The 1st of 11th Month 1674 [= January 1675]*†

13 For All the Bishops and Priests in Christendom
Worcester Prison, 11th Month 1674 [= January 1675]*†

61 A Looking Glass for the Jews
Worcester Prison*

84 A Testimony of What We Believe of Christ
Worcester Prison, The 25th of 11th Month 1675 [= January 1676]†

154 A Small Treatise Concerning Swearing
Swarthmore, This 29th day of the 8th Month, 1675; Fox claims it was written in Worcester prison*

171 Primitive Ordination and Succession
Swarthmore, The 10th of the 9th month, 1675

197 Possession above Profession
Swarthmore, This 20th of the 8th Month, 1675

210 To All Magistrates and People in Christendom… to Turn from the Persecuting Mind

217 The People of God, in Scorn Called Quakers
Worcester Prison*

228 Concerning Revelation, Prophecy, Measure and Rule
240 Now Concerning Such as Deny Prophecies in These Days
245 And Now Concerning Them which Deny Inspiration Nowadays
246 Now Concerning the Measure of the Spirit
249 Concerning the Rule
Worcester Prison, the 9th day of the 11th Month 1676 [= January 1677]*†

254 The Beginning of Tythes in the Law

266 The Spiritual Man Christ Jesus
The 7th month, 1676

271 Christ’s Parable of Dives and Lazarus
The 7th month, 1676

277 A Testimony, For All Masters of Ships, and Seamen
Swarthmore, The 28th of the 8th month, 1676

288 Concerning How the World Is Called the Sea

291 Concerning Christ the Spiritual and Holy Head over His Holy Church

308 Now Concerning Schisms and Errors among the Christians
Marshgrange, The 9th of the 3rd month, 1676

313 To All the Kings, Princes and Governors in the Whole World
The 5th day of the 10th month, 1676

341 The Spirit of Man the Candle of the Lord
The 2nd of the 4th month, 1677

362 A Testimony concerning the Blood of the Old Covenant

367 A Demonstration to the Christians in Name, Without the Nature of It
The 28th of the 2nd month, 1679

381 Election and Reprobation

421 A Distinction between the New Covenant and the Old
Swarthmore, The 4th month, 1679

425 A Warning to All That Profess Christianity
The 5th month, 1679

434 The Man Christ Jesus the Head of the Church
The 10th month, 1678

VOLUME 6:

3 Concerning the Living God of Truth
6th month, 1679

38 A Clear Distinction between the Old Covenant, or Old Testament, and the New…
Marshgrange, The 8th month, 1679

77 To the Great Turk and King at Algiers
Kingston upon Thames, The 16th of the 5th month, 1680

92 The Protestant Christian Quaker

105 Concerning the Upright and Good Conversation of the Saints in Christ

118 An Epistle to All Christians, Jews and Gentiles
The 4th of the 7th month, 1682

120 Concerning Persecution in All Ages to This Day
London, the 8th month, 1682

130 How the Devil Was, and Is the Old Informer against the Righteous

140 A Paper to Friends, and Others, against the Pomps of the World
London, the 2nd of the 11th month, 1682 [January, 1683]

142 A Way to Prevent the Indignation and Judgments of God from Coming on a Kingdom
Kingston, the 24th of 12th month, 1682 [February, 1683]

149 The Cause why Adam and Eve Were Driven out of Paradise
London, the 8th month, 1682

161 Several Plain Truths Manifested and Declared from the Spirit of God
Gouses in Essex, the 13th day of 2nd month, 1683

165 A Distinction between the Wars and the Weapons… in the Old Testament and the New
London, the 8th month, 1682

171 Concerning Cain

174 Uniformity and Conformity Proclaimed to the Whole World

177 The Authority of the Church of Christ

179 Concerning Exhortation and Admonition

182 Concerning Such as Cry against Orders

184 Concerning Meeting in Houses, Ships, Streets, Mountains, and High-Ways
Kingston, the 23rd of 5th month, 1684

201 The State of the Birth Temporal and Spiritual
Kingston, the 10th month, 1684

210 Trying the Spirits in Our Age Now

234 The Saints… Their Heavenly and Spiritual Worship, Unity, and Communion
Kingston, the 9th of the 9th month, 1684

246 A Word of Admonition to Such As Wander from the Anointing and Teaching Within

256 Concerning God’s Promise to Cain

260 The Christians’ Righteousness Must Exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees

263 Concerning Such as Shall Enter into the Kingdom of God… and Such as Shall Not

267 Concerning Condemnation

269 Concerning Such as Have Forbidden Preaching, or Teaching in the Name of Jesus
The 6th of the 10th month, 1684

271 To the Chief Magistrates… and Other Officers; who Profess Christ and Christianity
London, the 17th of the 9th month, 1684

275 An Exhortation to All People, to Pureness, Cleanness, and Holiness

276 Concerning Such as Eat Up God’s People Like Bread, and Such as Make Idols

278 The Cause of Drought, and Barrenness, Famine and Plagues

280 Concerning Such as Overcome the Beast, and Dragon, and Whore, and False Prophet

282 A Distinction between the Two Suppers of Christ

295 Concerning Christ, the Resurrection of the Just and Unjust

301 Concerning the Stone that Smote the Image; and Concerning Christ the Vine

309 To All Kings, Princes, Rulers, Governors, Bishops, and Clergy, that Profess Christianity

329 A Distinction between True Liberty and False
London, the 12th of the 8th month, 1685

333 How the Unchangeable God Is, and How All People May Know Him

336 A True Account of the Sensible, Thankful, and Holy State of God’s People

338 How the Lord Spake unto Moses in the Outward Tabernacle in the Old Testament

344 To All Magistrates in Christendom that Do Profess Christianity

347 How God’s People Are Not to Take the Names of the Heathen gods in Their Mouths

350 A Testimony for God’s Truth

353 How All Nations May See with the Light, the Life in Christ, Him the Great Mountain

356 Here You May See How Male and Female Were Meet-helps in the Government

359 Here You May See How Every One Is to Improve His Talent Which Christ Gives Them
Kingston upon Thames, the 7th of the 10th month, 1687

360 Concerning the Apostate Christians, that Think to Do Miracles by Dead Men’s Bones, &c.

361 Of Praying to the Saints that Are Dead… and Praying for the Dead

362 Concerning the Apostate Christians’ Tradition of a Purgatory, After They Are Dead

364 Concerning the Apostate Christians’ Traditions, of Making a God or Christ of Bread and Wine

365 Concerning the Traditions of the Jews, and Apostate Christians

367 Christ is the Rock and Foundation Which the Heavenly Father Revealed to Peter

369 Now Concerning Whom the Scripture Saith is the True Rock and Foundation

370 The Antiquity of Our Cross
The 2nd month, 1688

371 The Speech or Declaration of Sultan Mahomet, the Great Turk

372 An Answer to the Speech or Declaration of the Great Turk

382 Concerning Daily Sacrifices and Offerings

384 Concerning the Antiquity of the People of God Called Quakers
Edmondton, the 2nd month, 1688

402 A Spiritual or Heavenly Salutation to All the Tender-hearted in Christendom

409 A Scripture Testimony against Persecution for Religion

434 A Postscript Concerning Prayer

435 Several Treatises Worthy of Every True Christian’s Serious Consideration

435 I. A Distinction betwixt the Prophets of God… and the Messengers of Satan
451 II. Priests the Chief Promoters of Persecution
455 III. And What a Scabbed Flock the Bishops and Priests Have, which Should Oversee Them
456 IV. How No Persecutor upon the Earth… Can Exercise a Good Conscience toward God and Man
459 V. And the Bad Example of Gehazi and Simon Magus, to Be Shunned
461 VI. Concerning the Priests and Professors, that Say They Must Do as the Priests Say, Not as They Do
463 VII. To All You Priests, Teachers, and Professors, that Mock and Sniff at the Motions of the Spirit
470 VIII. A Reformation from Heathenism and Popery, &c.
473 IX. Concerning the Builders that Reject the Corner Stone
475 X. News, News! Cain, Ishmael, Esau… Turned Outward Christians
476 XI. Here You May See the Heavenly and Spiritual Gifts
480 XII. How that Such as Kill and Persecute People, Are Not Like to Convert Them
481 XIII. Concerning the Papists Making the Flesh and Blood of Christ of Bread and Wine
484 XIV. The Trial of the Pope’s Spirit
485 XV. Concerning the Kingdom of God
_______________
* In John L. Nickalls, ed., The Journal of George Fox (London: Religious Society of Friends, rev. ed., 1975), 705-706, Fox writes: “During the time of my imprisonment in Worcester… I writ several books for the press, one whereof was called A Warning to England. Another was To the Jews proving by the prophets that the Messiah is come [Listed above as “A Looking-glass for the Jews”]; another Concerning inspiration, revelation and prophesy [sic]; another Against all vain disputes. Another was For all bishops and ministers to try themselves by the Scriptures [Listed above as “For All the Bishops and Priests in Christendom”]; another To such as say we love none but ourselves [Listed above as “The People of God, in Scorn Called Quakers”]; another on Our testimony of what we believe of Christ. Another little book Concerning swearing was the first of those two that were given to the Parliament. Besides these I writ many papers and epistles to Friends to encourage and strengthen them in their services for God….”

† In Fox’s time, and until 1752 in England, the new year officially began on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation (“Lady Day”), making the month of March “First Month” in Quaker usage. Accordingly, where Fox dates a piece of writing “11th Month 1674,” he means what the modern world would call January 1675.
_______________

Part 3: Alphabetical Index of Titles

Title Volume: page

Answer to the Speech… of the Great Turk, An 6:372
Antiquity of Our Cross, The 6:370
Authority of the Church of Christ, The 6:177

Beginning of Tythes in the Law, The 5:254

Cause of Drought, and Barrenness, Famine and Plagues, The 6:278
Cause why Adam and Eve Were Driven out of Paradise, The 6:149
Christ is the Rock and Foundation… Revealed to Peter 6:367
Christians’ Righteousness Must Exceed… Scribes and Pharisees 6:260
Christ’s Light 4:303
Christ’s Parable of Dives and Lazarus 5:271
Christ’s Way and Judas’s Way 4:156
Clear Distinction between the Old Covenant… and the New, A 6:38
Concerning Cain 6:171
Concerning Christ Jesus the Covenant of God 4:267
Concerning Christ, the Resurrection of the Just and Unjust 6:295
Concerning Christ the Spiritual and Holy Head over His Holy Church 5:291
Concerning Condemnation 6:267
Concerning Daily Sacrifices and Offerings 6:382
Concerning Exhortation and Admonition 6:179
Concerning Faith 4:286
Concerning God’s Promise to Cain 6:256
Concerning How the World Is Called the Sea 5:288
Concerning Meeting in Houses, Ships, Streets… and High-Ways 6:184
Concerning Persecution in All Ages to This Day 6:120
Concerning Revelation, Prophecy, Measure and Rule 5:228
Concerning Such as Cry against Orders 6:182
Concerning Such as Eat Up God’s People Like Bread … and Make Idols 6:276
Concerning Such as Have Forbidden Preaching… in the Name of Jesus 6:269
Concerning Such as Overcome the Beast, and Dragon… 6:280
Concerning Such as Shall Enter into the Kingdom of God 6:263
Concerning the Act that Prohibits, that Not above Four or Five May Meet 4:386
Concerning the Antiquity of the People of God Called Quakers 6:384
Concerning the Apostate Christians, that Think to Do Miracles… 6:360
Concerning the Apostate Christians’ Tradition of a Purgatory 6:362
Concerning the Apostate Christians’ Traditions… of Bread and Wine 6:364
Concerning the Living God of Truth 6:3
Concerning the Spirit 4:282
Concerning the Stone that Smote the Image; and… Christ the Vine 6:301
Concerning the Traditions of the Jews, and Apostate Christians 6:365
Concerning the Upright and Good Conversation of the Saints in Christ 6:105
Concerning the World’s Hypocritical Salutations, Being Out of the Truth 4:138
Cry for Repentance, A 4:99

Declaration Concerning Fasting, and the Prayer that God Accepts, A 4:111
Declaration of the Difference of Ministers of the Word, and of the World 4:90
Declaration to the Jews, A 4:290
Demonstration to the Christians in Name, A 5:367
Difference between the World’s Relation… and the Saints’ Relation, The 4:202
Distinction between the New Covenant and the Old, A 5:421
Distinction between the Two Suppers of Christ, A 6:282
Distinction between the Wars and the Weapons [in the Old Testament and the New] 6:165
Distinction between True Liberty and False, A 6:329

Election and Reprobation 5:381
Epistle to All Christians, Jews and Gentiles, An 6:118
Epistle to All People on the Earth, An 4:119
Exhortation to All People, to Pureness, Cleanness, and Holiness 6:275

Fashions of the World Made Manifest, The 4:139
Few Plain Words… to the Teachers and People of the Nation, A 4:259
For All the Bishops and Priests in Christendom 5:13
For the Emperor of China 4:252

Gospel Liberty, and the Royal Law of Love 4:329

Hammer, to Break Down All Invented Images, A 4:366
Heathen’s Divinity, The 4:387
Here You May See How Every One Is to Improve His Talent 6:359
Here You May See How Male and Female Were Meet-helps 6:356
How All Nations May See with the Light, the Life in Christ 6:353
How God’s People are Not to Take the Names of the Heathen gods 6:347
How the Devil Was, and Is the Old Informer against the Righteous 6:130
How the Lord Spake unto Moses in the Outward Tabernacle 6:338
How the Unchangeable God Is, and How All People May Know Him 6:333

Lamb’s Officer is Gone Forth with the Lamb’s Message, The 4:178
Looking Glass for the Jews, A 5:61

Man Christ Jesus the Head of the Church, The 5:434
Measuring Rule concerning Liberty and Persecution, A 4:305

Now concerning Schisms and Errors among the Christians 5:308
Now concerning Whom the Scripture Saith is the True Rock 6:369

Of Praying to the Saints… and Praying for the Dead 6:361

Paper to Friends, and Others, against the Pomps of the World 6:140
Pearl Found in England, The 4:184
People of God, in Scorn Called Quakers, The 5:217
Possession above Profession 5:197
Postscript Concerning Prayer, A 6:434
Primitive Ordination and Succession 5:171
Promise of God Proclaimed, The 4:115
Protestant Christian Quaker, The 6:92

Saints… Their Heavenly and Spiritual Worship, Unity, and Communion, The 6:234
Scripture Testimony against Persecution for Religion 6:409
Second Covenant, The 4:144
Serious People’s Reasoning and Speech, The 4:194
Several Plain Truths Manifested and Declared from the Spirit of God 6:161
Several Treatises Worthy of Every True Christian’s Serious Consideration 6:435
Small Treatise Concerning Swearing, A 5:154
Some Papers Given Forth to the Magistrates of the Isle of Milita 4:222
Some Queries to All Teachers and Professors of Christianity 4:316
Something Farther Concerning Silent Meetings 4:134
Speech or Declaration of Sultan Mahomet, the Great Turk, The 6:371
Spirit of Man the Candle of the Lord, The 5:341
Spiritual Man Christ Jesus, The 5:266
Spiritual or Heavenly Salutation to All the Tender-hearted in Christendom, A 6:402
State of the Birth Temporal and Spiritual, The 6:201

Testimony concerning the Blood of the Old Covenant, A 5:362
Testimony for All Masters of Ships, and Seamen, A 5:277
Testimony for God’s Truth, A 6:350
Testimony of What We Believe of Christ, A 5:84
To All Kings, Princes… Bishops, and Clergy, that Profess Christianity 6:309
To All Magistrates and People… to Turn from the Persecuting Mind 5:210
To All Magistrates in Christendom that Do Profess Christianity 6:344
To All Professors in the Christian World 4:407
To All Rulers of Families 4:312
To All Sorts of People in Christendom 4:317
To All that Profess Christianity 4:298
To All that Would Know the Way to the Kingdom 4:15
To All the Kings, Princes and Governors in the Whole World 5:313
To All the Magistrates in London, &c. 4:135
To All the Nations under the Whole Heavens 4:255
To All the Rulers of the Earth 4:51
To All Who Love the Lord Jesus Christ 4:40
To Both House of Parliament 4:264
To the Chief Magistrate 6:271
To the Emperor of the House of Austria 4:226
To the Great Turk 6:77
To the High and Lofty Ones 4:48
To the King of France 4:234
To the King of Spain 4:239
To the People of Uxbridge 4:205
To the Pope 4:246
To the Turk 4:216
True Account of the Sensible, Thankful, and Holy State of God’s People, A 6:336
Truth’s Triumph in the Eternal Power 4:270
Trying the Spirits in Our Age Now 6:210

Uniformity and Conformity Proclaimed to the Whole World 6:174

Vials of Wrath of God Poured Forth upon the Man of Sin, The 4:27
Visitation to All You who Have Long Had the Scriptures, A 4:76
Visitation to the Jews, A 4:53

Warning to All that Profess Christianity, A 5:425
Warning to All the Merchants in London, A 4:160
Warning to England, A 5:3
Warning to All that Profess Christianity, A 5:425
Way to Prevent the Indignation and Judgments of God, A 6:142
Woman Learning in Silence, The 4:104
Word from the Lord, to All the World, A 4:32
Word in the Behalf of the King, A 4:208
Word of Admonition to Such As Wander from the Anointing Within, A 6:246
Wrath of the Lamb, The 4:177

Appendix: How to Access Individual Works in the Digital Quaker Collection

  1. In the “search” window of your browser, key in esr.earlham.edu/dqc/ (or simply google “Digital Quaker Collection,” which will take you to that URL). This will take you to a page with a prominent button labeled “ENTER.” Click on that button.
  2. The page with “ENTER” on it has a column of buttons on its left-hand side, one of which is labeled “Instructions.” The Instructions deserve thorough study as soon as you can afford the time. But to proceed directly toward your goal: clicking on the “ENTER” button will bring up a page with two alternative buttons: “Search Collection” and “Browse Collection.”
  3. Choose “Browse Collection.” This choice will bring up a column of alternative buttons: “View Results List,” “Browse Titles,” “Browse Authors,” “Search History,” and “Log Out.”
  4. Choose “Browse Authors.” This choice will bring up an array of letters of the alphabet.
  5. Choose the letter “F.” This choice will bring up a page beginning with “Fell, Margaret. – The life of Margaret Fox, wife of George Fox.”
  6. Now click repeatedly on the ‘Next Page‘ button until you get to the ninth consecutive page of “F” authors. The second item on that page will read “Fox, George. – The works of George Fox (Volume 4).” You may note that individual Doctrinal Writings of George Fox are also listed on the fourth through sixteenth pages of “F” authors. You may also access the writings by clicking on them individually.
  7. To the left of every item on every page is a little open book icon. Clicking on the open book icon to the left of “Fox, George. – The works of George Fox (Volume 4)” reveals a Table of Contents for that volume.
  8. The entry for each item in that Table of Contents ends with underlined text reading “Starts at” and then a page reference like “Img 18 Pg UN.” Click on the “Starts at” and that will take you to the opening page of the work you want.
  9. To access the Table of Contents of Volume 5 of the Doctrinal Writings, go to the eleventh consecutive page of “F” authors and scroll down to the sixth item on it. To access the Table of Contents of Volume 6, go to the sixteenth page (which is the fourth from the last page) and scroll down to the eighth item.







A Christian Pacifist’s Open Letter to a Christian Zionist

November 10, 2019 by

An open letter to a spokesman for Friends of Zion, Phoenix, AZ, sent 11/10/2019:

Dear brother in our Lord Jesus Christ:

Thank you for your choosing me to represent residents of Richmond, Indiana in your survey, and for appealing to me to “help raise a shield of protection over God’s chosen people,” which I indeed wish to do. But your survey asks me for knowledge or opinions I dare not pretend to have (for example, “Do you think recent events in the Middle East are a sign of the End Times?” – see Mark 13:32). Rather than fill out your survey, therefore, I prefer to speak to you from my heart.

Jesus Christ, in washing me clean of my sins and granting me membership in Himself, has also disarmed me of carnal weapons forever, even to the point of forbidding me to use my tongue or pen to hurt others. I may and do, however, rebuke many, in hopes of helping souls return to the God who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but, being Love Itself, wishes for the repentance and salvation of all. Please consider this seriously, and if you doubt it, ask the Lord to reveal the truth of the matter to you. In cases where sinners persist in behaving foolishly enough to repeatedly choose evil over good, it must be by their own will, and not God’s, that they flee from the Light into the outer darkness (John 3:19-20). I say this with confidence because Jesus has commanded me to forgive others their trespasses against myself, *all* others and *all* their trespasses, if I want my Heavenly Father to forgive my own trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15). Think: would our Heavenly Father expect us to hold ourselves to a higher standard of forgiveness than He Himself keeps to? It’s written that Jesus Himself forgave His own murderers (Luke 23:34). Would He exhibit a more all-forgiving character than the One whose will He came to do (John 6:38)? It is this very kindness of God toward sinners, Paul notes, that is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

I do not vote. Because Christ has disarmed me of carnal weapons, and forbidden me to urge others to use them on my behalf, I can’t use the ballot box to put Caesar’s sword into one would-be commander-in-chief’s hand rather than another’s. Neither can I, in good conscience, help American Christians empower fear-driven bullies in Israel’s government and military to engage in cruel injustices to the Palestinians with whom they are obliged by international agreements to share territory and resources. Neither would I encourage Palestinians, however hurt and angry, to be vengeful. I would say to the people of Israel, with Balaam, “Blessed is everyone who blesses you” (Numbers 24:9). But I would say the same, in the spirit of Jesus Christ, to all the nations round about Israel. If and when the people of Israel behave themselves like a righteous people of a merciful God, I have no doubt that the prophecy of Micah 4:1-2 will be fulfilled, with neighboring peoples streaming uphill to a Mount Zion established in divine truth and justice. But there can be no streaming through the checkpoints and razor wire currently in place.

I believe that Jesus Christ rebukes the State of Israel for its militaristic and oppressive stance toward its non-Jewish neighbors that makes enemies of them and keeps them enemies. I would advise fellow Christians to show love for God’s people, the Jews, by serving as peacemakers in the Middle East and not arms suppliers. But as for those Christians who see things otherwise, I don’t presume to judge them. I merely warn them that we have a Judge to face, they and I alike, and may our Judge be merciful to us all. As for you, M. E., a brother in Christ to whom I owe nothing but love (Romans 13:8, John 13:34), I hope you are a wise man who, if you feel rebuked by me, love me for it (Proverbs 9:8b).

In Christ’s love and truth,

John Jeremiah Edminster

The Prayer from the Cross

March 4, 2019 by

A Sermon Delivered at Earlham School of Religion, Third Day, 2/26/2019

Friends: I invite you all to join me, during this hour, in a guided meditation on what might have been going through the mind of Jesus as He was hanging on the cross, waiting to die. Whether or not you accept Him as your personal Savior, a Divine Incarnation, or just a very good man who may or may not have risen from the dead, you are attached to a Christian theological seminary, and the world will expect you to have given this subject some thought. So I’m here today to help with that, though I claim no special knowledge.. Because of the solemnity of the topic, I’ve scheduled no hymn-singing. I will not be dwelling on the cruelty and injustice of the crucifixion, but if you think that discussing the subject at all may be harmful to your peace of mind or mental health, you may leave at any time, with my blessing.

We’ve been trained here to identify the social location we think from, and mine is one you can all see: multiply-privileged white-looking, straight-seeming, well-educated American male. But I pray that, during this gathering, the Holy Spirit, speaking though me, might transcend the limitations of our social locations so that I speak to the condition of everyone here. But I also discern a need to disclose my theological location in giving a talk like this, so here it is: I self-identify as a follower of Jesus Christ, whom I call Lord and Savior, in whom I now live, and who lives in me. I was raised a nonbeliever, and I’m only where I am now theologically because I believe I’ve heard Christ’s voice and felt His guidance. For data about the Crucifixion I rely on the Bible. I recognize that the four canonical gospels disagree among themselves about many details, and include some stories I find unbelievable, like the pericope about bandaged zombies coming out of their tombs at the moment of Jesus’ death (Matt 27:51-53). The part about the darkness at midday (Luke 23:44-45) may be a distorted memory of the lunar eclipse of 4/3/33 CE (not a solar eclipse, impossible during a full-moon festival like Passover).

I believe the gospels reveal a clear and consistent picture of Jesus to anyone who studies them. I have no use for alternate theories I’ve heard, that Jesus was “really” a political revolutionary, or the son of a human father other than Joseph, or a mistaken believer in an imminent apocalypse, or an India- trained disciple of yoga masters. It’s not that I want to quash such speculations, but any truth that there may be in them would add nothing to Jesus’ value to me. I do believe in His miracles, which is to say, in what we call “paranormal” powers over the natural world. I do believe in His bodily resurrection. Finally: if you don’t agree with my theology, that’s fine with me; I don’t think your salvation depends on it. Anyway, Christ may not want you to agree with me.

In any case, there was something about Jesus – His purity of intention, clarity of vision, integrity if not outright divinity – that made Him so different from the rest of us that it’s hard for us to imagine “being” Him, walking in His shoes and thinking His thoughts. But if we must, let’s start by asking His help: Lord Jesus, purify our hearts and enlighten our minds to fit us for this work, so that we might, if only for this hour, love in accord with Your heart and know in accord with Your mind. Amen.

I believe that what He was doing on the cross was praying for the salvation of the world. Yes, also suffering; yes, also dying; but surely His intention was to be praying, with all the concentration He could muster, for He was not one to waste time on futile activities. You and I might just go to pieces when nails went into our hands and feet, but Jesus would not, if He knew in His heart that being crucified was an essential work-assignment that He had to do right if He wanted the world saved. Now some writers have conjectured that crucifixion spelled the failure of His mission, but that simply cannot be, if His mission was to model the way of all-forgiving God. If your mission is to model the way of an all-forgiving God, you do it by being forgiving unto death (Luke 23:34), and a public death like Jesus’s, or like Stephen’s in the Book of Acts, gives you the chance to show the world that you mean it. That God is all-forgiving is surely good enough news to die for!

An all-forgiving God? Look at the Lord’s Prayer with me: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” After He teaches that prayer, He comments, “forgive all trespasses and yours will be forgiven; but withhold forgiveness and yours won’t be” (my paraphrase of Matt 6:14-15). Now would God ask us to be all-forgiving if God weren’t all-forgiving? (If God had predestined most sinners to eternal damnation and Jesus knew it, Jesus couldn’t and wouldn’t have taught this!. Take that, John Calvin!) The only barriers to forgiveness by God seem to be ones that we put up, (1) by trying to hide our sins from God, often by denial of needing forgiveness, or (2) by refusing to extend forgiveness by holding on to grudges. This is what the Fourth Gospel must mean by describing [all] condemnation as self-condemnation, a fleeing from the truth-revealing Light into all-hiding darkness (John 3:19-20), where God’s forgiveness, by our own decision, cannot reach. But to know that we can be freely forgiven all those things we’ve loathed ourselves for is a kindness of God that, as Paul notes (Rom 2:4), should make us want to repent them! Jesus illustrates the wild joy and generosity of the much-forgiven by pointing to the uninhibited exuberance of the sinner-woman at Simon the Leper’s banquet (Luke 7:36-50).

Now I framed this digression about Jesus’ gospel of an all-forgiving God within a speculation that Jesus was praying from the Cross for the salvation of the world, a prayer that presupposes an all-forgiving God. The whole creation yearns for salvation! The whole creation groans (Rom 8:22), all sentient beings groan along with humankind, groan from ignorance, impermanence, fear, pain, danger, and mortality, things we all long to be saved from whether we can express that longing or not. Jesus is twice hailed as the “Savior of the world” in the writings of John, and I believe that Jesus felt that love, repentance, and forgiveness, practiced universally enough among humanity, might indeed undo our ancient fall from Paradise and work the “reconciliation of all things” (Col 1:20). Love “hopes all things,” Paul wrote (1 Cor 13:7), and if the crucified Jesus saw Himself as called to a ministry of saving the world through love, then He would have been praying with all His heart for it. “One-pointed” as any adept of yoga ever was, Jesus would have been supremely accomplished at focusing His attention on one single point and keeping it there.

Imagine Him focusing it on His own heart as a radiating source of love. Is He distracted by the pain in His hands and feet? Then He is willing them to be radiating outlets of the love in His heart: He’s experienced, as we know, at willing through His hands, which have touched and healed many, and willing through His feet, which have walked on water. Is He distracted by irrelevant thoughts? He’s experienced at silencing them: “Peace; be still,” He’d said to the wind and the waves (Mark 4:39). “Get thee behind me, Satan,” He’d said to His tempters (Luke 4:8, Mark 8:33). Pain does not break His resolve! According to the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, He breaks His silence only for essential things: to pronounce forgiveness of His killers (Luke 23:34), to bless the repentant thief (Luke 23:43), to put His mother under the protection of the Beloved Disciple (John 19:26), and to beg relief from thirst (John 19:28). He cries out “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34), signaling those “with ears to hear” that He is “fulfilling the scripture” of Psalm 22. He is also, perhaps, crying out as the Voice of All Creation to its Creator: “Restore us to the condition of Paradise!”

Jesus’ body may be in a state of shock as death approaches, with reduced blood pressure and possible hypothermia, so that He weaves in and out of consciousness, but I imagine that His will remains firm. Unprogrammed Friends are no doubt familiar with silences so deep that we seem to be fast asleep, except for the glimmering awareness that our abiding intention is to be at worship. Imagine, then, Jesus’ awareness thus reduced to just a bare, naked intention for the world’s salvation, before the final moment when He comes to, heaves a final sigh – “It is finished” – and gives up the ghost (John 19:30).

It is possible that His consciousness, during His hours on the cross, has expanded so far beyond the confines of His physical body, as egoless minds are said to be able to do, that He has allowed Himself to suffer the sufferings of all creation. This would allow Him to cry out the prayer of every suffering creature to God as with its own voice; – but of such a mystery I can have no knowledge, unless He reveals it to me and grants me a mind that can take it in. I only sense, by faith, that His is the perfect love that casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18); and that His prayer for us is one with the eternal blessing of the Creator, who pronounces the creation “very good” at its completion (Gen 1:31).

All Humans Are in Me, and I in Them

January 2, 2019 by

Friends, I had been intending to stay out of the recent discussion [on the Quakers Facebook page, around the turn of the year 2019] about Friends’ alleged racism, white privilege, and white fragility, feeling that I had no healing wisdom to add to it. I’ve come to see myself as a racist-in-recovery, one aspect of my being a sinner-in-recovery. If the Lord sees a way to use me to help heal the spiritual disease that is North American racism, few things would please me more (perhaps only the abolition of war, the reversal of global warming, or the universal repentance of selfishness). But if I speak in self-will, I may impress some other old privileged white males with my eloquence, but I’m unlikely to cause any of the needed changes of heart. So I’ve kept silent.

But then today it struck me that we humans are, as Paul wrote, “one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:5 KJV), a thought developed further in 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:25 and 5:30, — but also in Hindu tradition where the Universal Human is called Hiranyagarbha Prajapati, in Qabalistic tradition where He/She is called Adam Qadmon. The theme of our membership in a larger being recurs in the thought of Swedenborg, in the Gaia Hypothesis, and in A Course in Miracles, among others: we are not merely separate individuals. If Christ my Savior lives in me, and I in Him; and if the fallen Adam/Eve also lives in me, and I in Him/Her, then I “contain” every nasty racist, and also every oppressed person of color, and also the Savior who is one with the God whose name is Love. How can I hear their voices if I don’t listen for them? How can I hope to understand Hitler, Stalin, or Cain if I refuse to see how something in me is like them? How can I break its evil power over me without first recognizing it, then calling on a Higher Power to vanquish it? So much for the lie, “I am not a racist.”

And yet I am limited by this body-identity, and dare not claim to know what a man or woman of color feels like — I, who have never been born and raised in the United States in a black or Native American skin. I can’t even know what my sisters, wife, mother, or daughter feel like, having wombs and female hormones in their blood, and histories of being treated as men’s inferiors. I can only listen with respect when they speak.

“Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven”

December 3, 2018 by

A sermon on Malachi 4:1-6, on the eve of COP 24, to take place in Katowice, Poland, 12/3-14/2018

Friends, whatever value you do or don’t place on the prophecies of the Bible, this one really speaks to the condition of our time: the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and it is already burning as an oven in this year’s California wildfires and the record summer heat of the Persian Gulf – 127°F in one city near the shores of Iran. And it’s on track to get worse, our prophets the scientists tell us; – but our rulers, both the civil rulers and the corporate power-brokers that keep them in office, are steadfastly ignoring the scientists’ prophecies, at least in this country, the world’s biggest polluter.

Yes, a great and dreadful day of the Lord is surely coming, and for many of us it’s here already, brought on not by the anger of a wrathful God but – to use an old-fashioned word – by people’s obstinate wickedness. Because what does the Bible tell us about God? God is love! God is of the same character as Jesus, who loved and forgave His enemies even to His own death! God does not desire the death of sinners, but their repentance! This cooking of the earth that we see starting to happen is not, therefore, is not and cannot be, God’s rage at us or disgust with us. Still less is it the result of the non-existence of God, the powerlessness of God, or the indifference of God! So then, what are we to think?

What are we to think? Hear the words of Malachi’s prophecy: – for those willing to live under the government of God, “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” Like “calves of the stall,” we’ll be healed, protected, kept alive. We aren’t told that we won’t suffer the agony of the heat along with all our neighbors, but we’ll know that the God we trust in loves us and won’t abandon us. Scroll down now to the very end of the Book of Malachi: God will send a prophet, or prophets, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children: what’s more needed now than that we care about our children’s and grandchildren’s need for a livable planet? We, the human race, are in danger of exterminating our descendants. How horrible! How could we answer to God for that? – But is the solution to fund a think-tank to brainstorm a way out, or is the solution to love those descendants more? And if we truly loved them, could we let our biggest single industry, our biggest single contributor to environmental destruction, be war? We call it “defense,” but you and I know that it’s war, it’s bullying by either bloodshed or the threat of bloodshed, and that it’s indefensibly costly to coming generations, and that it’s an attempt to impose a selfish human will, one state’s will, on the world in place of whatever God’s will might be.

The “great and dreadful day of the Lord” can only be an unveiling of what our own selfishness has created, and of how we, the human race, created it: how the way we’ve chosen jobs, bought, invested, voted, defended ourselves, lied to ourselves and others, and let ourselves be lied to, has earned us a dying planet. Our vain attempts to import pleasure and export pain have yielded the evil harvest that was implicit in the sowing of it! But how else can God teach us this truth but by letting us see the natural consequence of our own bad choices?

There is a right way to respond to this unveiling, and a wrong way. The wrong way is to name scapegoats for the unhappy condition we see developing, and try to cure it by attacking those scapegoats or demanding that they desist from evil. The right way is for each of us, individually and then together, to ask to be shown how we ourselves have been at fault. It’s promised that God gives wisdom liberally to those who ask for it (James 1:5). God would not be so cruel as to withhold such liberating knowledge from those who recognize it as essential to their survival.

“Every kind of thing will be well,” by Brian Drayton

July 4, 2018 by

via Every kind of thing will be well

Who Dares Treat Human Souls as Things without Feelings or Value?

June 29, 2018 by

God loves us all. God wants us, God’s children, to learn to love everyone also.

Jesus, who taught “Love your enemies” and even forgave His own murderers, claimed to be of one will and character with God. Who could understand God’s heart better than Jesus? So when Jesus assures us that God will forgive us our sins if we forgive others their sins against us, we may be confident that God, who wishes to save every soul, wants us also to be kind, merciful, and all-forgiving. In this way we are made fit to inherit God’s own eternal peace and joy.

One of Jesus’ apostles put it simply: God is Love.

But there are some who, as yet, cannot see God this way. These can only imagine a Supreme Deity – if they believe in one at all – who loves a few and rejects the rest. This belief allows some such people to treat their own designated scapegoats cruelly. These seem unable to take to heart the warning that we must reap what we sow – until or unless a sick conscience, now at last coming to be recognized as “moral injury,” leads them to repent and renounce cruelty. But this is to learn the hard way.

Such people need our prayers. If they have taken pleasure in tormenting others, or even given assent in their hearts to a sadistic government policy that kidnaps a nursing infant away from its mother, that pleasure, or complacency, must turn to pain as their souls flee from the light that exposes the evil. This is not divine punishment , but self-punishment, as the Bible itself attests.

We must not wish such pain on them, or on anyone. Wishing others ill only keeps the cycle of vengeance going. Nor may we take satisfaction in the thought of their coming humiliation when they are corrected. They are our brothers and sisters, God’s beloved children, like ourselves. They are ourselves. We are entitled to rebuke and resist them, to warn them, to do all we can to stop them, without resorting to violence. Only by remembering that we wish their repentance and redemption, and not their suffering, can we obey the divine advice to overcome evil with good.

– A tract written for distribution at the Families Belong Together public event in Richmond, Indiana, Seventh Day, 6/30/2018. The printed version has footnotes giving biblical references.

Sheep Having No Shepherd: a sermon

February 28, 2018 by

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. – Matthew 9:36, King James Version

I don’t usually wake up in panic. I did last Wednesday, having the idea that it was already Tuesday, March 6th, and I’d completely forgotten that I was supposed to come to Friends Fellowship Community on March 4th to lead worship. – What? it’s still February? . . . then I’m safe! Within a few minutes I was wondering why I might have dreamed that dream, about forgetting an obligation, letting a lot of people down, and going in a split-second from a normal state of mind to a horrified one. And then I thought: . . . They’ve all lived a long time. They’ll understand. And so I knew what it was I’d talk about today: that helpless feeling of being a sheep without a shepherd.

Actually, the whole world knows that feeling. It’s the feeling of the child separated from her mother in a strange city, the feeling of the flood victim, the refugee, and every person dying. Jesus came to be our Shepherd at such times of helplessness, and if we accept Him then, we’ll be shown that He’s available to guide and protect us at all times: both when we’re feeling strong and happy, and also when we’re feeling sick and confused and weak. Now when I say this, I’m not saying you have to have a certain type of belief about Jesus of Nazareth. It’s not about theology. It’s about crying out in times of desperate need, “Creator, if You exist, hear me and help me!” And about surrendering yourself, asking God’s forgiveness for all the selfish things you’ve said and done, and being willing to be given a new heart, a loving heart, in place of the old, selfish one.

And then you may come to realize that the Ancient Maker of quintillions of suns and planets has listened to you, tiny as you are, and answered you in love. God knows what it’s like to be human like you, because He lives in you and knows your every thought, and He has a way for you to go forward. Always.

Now what does Jesus have to do with all this? As I understand it, Jesus, the Man, experienced oneness with God, and having lived and walked in that oneness, has an eternal existence, as Christ, in which He can help other humans grow toward, and into, that same oneness. The apostle Paul describes Him as the head of a great human Organism, the body of Christ, of which we can function as members (hands, eyes, feet, voice) – if we can put aside living for self and live, instead, for the good of the whole creation. The Head of the body, the Shepherd of the sheep, the Vine from which we branches draw life – Scripture is full of metaphors for Jesus Christ’s relationship to us, His willing followers. Drawn into His life and enjoying the peace of clean consciences, we no longer have meaningless moments, no matter how empty, idle or fruitless they may look from outside, for we are participants in His life, as something inside us always knows.

I’m thinking, for example, of Jesus’ long walk to the cross, commemorated each year during Lent: up the long ascent from Jericho, into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, into the Garden where He was taken into custody by men whose fear-driven hearts were closed to His truth. Two crucifixion stories (Matt 27:51, Mark 15:38) tell of His crying out to God, “Why have You forsaken me?” before dying. But had God really forsaken Him? Were His six hours on the cross meaningless, did He die a failure? Did He and His way of loving enemies and forgiving His persecutors lose, while Caesar’s way of crushing all resistance to a cruel Empire won? Let your own heart tell you the answer. All glory be to Him, and to God His Father, and to the Holy Spirit which teaches our hearts the truth. Amen.

The Everlasting Gospel

January 13, 2018 by

Notes for a sermon to be delivered 1/14/2018

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…. – Revelation 14:6, KJV

“The everlasting gospel” – the Greek original reads evangélion aiōnion. This could be translated an everlasting gospel, or “good news that always was and always will be.” Early Quakers often spoke of “the everlasting gospel” as the gospel they’d been sent out to preach to the world, not a mere story about Jesus that people might believe or not believe, the way you and I might believe or not believe in global warming or the theory of relativity, but a word from the Savior himself with the power to “abolish death and bring life and immortality to light” (2 Tim 1:10).¹ Think of it as the sound of an alarm clock, which you start to hear in a dream, but it has the power to pull you right out of that dream and into the waking state. This may be what birth was like, and it may be what death will be like: what can you say but “Wow” when what you thought was reality fades away and you find yourself in an all-new reality? “Behold,” says the One on the heavenly throne, “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). This is the good news; this is what Paul must have meant when he wrote that “the gospel… is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16).

Now I’ve only had a little foretaste of this salvation from fear, sorrow, shame, remorse, and the threats of pain and annihilation; I know about it only by faith. I did sit on God’s throne in a dream once, and saw everything become transparent, so that the interior of every created thing and being was revealed – but that was only in a dream. I’ve seen Jesus in dreams, but those could just be figments of my dream-generator. I don’t believe I’ve yet heard the ringing of that gospel alarm-clock I mentioned, that wakes us up into eternity and the presence of our beloved Creator. If I’ve ever consciously stood before God before, I’ve forgotten it, maybe because I chose to love something else, and my “foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:19-21).

But this I do know by personal experience: that Christ lives in me. He sees through my eyes, hears through my ears, feels through my heart. He must; otherwise He wouldn’t be able to comment on my experience in words audible in my mind, to give me courage and firmness when I need them, to hear my prayers, to direct my walk to people who need to meet me and then to put good words into my mouth. “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?” asks Paul (2 Cor 13:5). Of course there are people who will tell me that I must be insane, because I’ve heard a voice; and there are people who’ll tell you that I must be hearing the voice of the Devil, because my theology or politics don’t agree with theirs: well, they said that about Jesus, too (Mark 3:22). The point is, once you know that Christ lives in you, your sense of who you are changes forever.

At that point, you’ve heard the Everlasting Gospel. If you’re a Jew or a Muslim or from some other tradition that’s been persecuted by Christians, He may identify Himself by a name more congenial to you, and appear as a “She” or an “It” if that works better for you. He may tell you that your sins are forgiven, He may warn you against a temptation, or reassure you that He won’t let you fall into sin – who can say? – but you won’t forget that voice you heard in your mind, not ever, and you’ll never forget the evidences that He lives in you – and that you live in Him. He’ll remind you (John 14:26).

Now if this hasn’t yet happened to you, and you want it to happen to you, I suggest that you tell Him so. Tell Him you’re willing to give up everything that might stand in the way of it. You may be surprised by how much He lets you keep, even though you now know that it’s all His property, including your own self. If you’re not ready to offer up everything, on the other hand, don’t worry; He has ways of persuading you that it’s a good idea, and a right time in mind to convince you. I’ve found Him very patient. In the end, if you come to Him, you’ll know that it’s only because God’s first drawn you to Him (John 6:44).

¹ George Fox (1624-1691), who associated the everlasting gospel with God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 22:18), wrote that “the Lord God and his son, Jesus Christ, did send me forth into the world, to preach his everlasting gospel and kingdom” (Journal, Nickalls ed., 34-35). Isaac Penington (1616-1679) wrote that “the gospel that was preached to the nations [in earlier times] was not the everlasting gospel; that gospel did not bring life and immortality to light… and men had only a sound of words instead of the thing…. an outward knowledge, a perishing knowledge in the perishing part… which… had no union and fellowship with that which is everlasting” (The Way of Life and Death (1658) in Works, 1:51). Robert Barclay (1648-1690) identifies the everlasting gospel with the commandment to all people to “love [God] in our hearts, and our neighbours as ourselves,” commending the “faithful witnesses and evangelists” in “this our age” who direct all people “to come to mind the Light in them, and know Christ in them… so as they… may come to walk in his Light and be saved” (Apology (1678), 167).